How to Wash Linen Sheets – Quick & Easy Tips

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    Did you know that it takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce enough cotton for just one T-shirt and pair of jeans? It’s true. The environmental impact doesn’t stop there, either. Cotton production also means lots of pesticide use and soil depletion. Unfortunately, cotton is the single-most popular material for fabrics on the planet, meaning cotton bedding wastes lots of resources every single year.

    Eco-conscious shoppers wanting to upgrade their bedding in a green way should explore flax linen. Unlike cotton, linen is one of the most eco-friendly textiles you can find. However, caring for this material is a little different than caring for other kinds of bed sheets.

    If you’re wondering how to wash linen sheets, don’t fret; we’re here to help. We’ll walk you through the entire process, so you can start enjoying a linen bed set right away.

    How to Care for Linen Sheets

    A rolled bolt of flax linen fabric next underneath linen fibers and flax seeds.

    Step #1: Read the Manufacturer's Label

    Who knows more about your linen sheets than anyone else? The people who created them, of course! That’s why you should always read the manufacturer’s label before washing any new sheet set. This label should let you know how to wash linen sheets as well as what actions to avoid (like bleaching or dry cleaning).

    That being said, the following steps outline the basic process for caring for linen bed sheets.

    Step #2: Find the Right Detergent

    The next step is to find some mild detergent. If possible, try to find something specifically made for delicate textiles. If not, just make sure the detergent contains no harsh chemicals like bleach, enzymes, fabric softeners, or color brighteners.

    Step #3: Start Washing

    You can complete this step either by hand or using a machine (unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer).

    Hand Washing

    1. Add cold or lukewarm water to a basin.
    2. Add a small amount of detergent to the water.
    3. For best results, wash the linen by itself. If not, just be sure to wash with like colors.
    4. Let the fabric soak for roughly 10 minutes.
    5. Then, swish either the basin or the linen itself around. Problem areas may require a little extra attention.
    6. Rinse the fabric when done cleaning.
    7. Above all else, remember the following: don’t wring the water out of the linen.

    Machine Washing

    1. Set the machine to a delicate cycle with cold or lukewarm water.
    2. Add a small amount of detergent to the water.
    3. For best results, wash the linen by itself. If not, just be sure to wash with like colors.
    4. Take the linen out of the washing machine as soon as the cleaning cycle is complete.

    Step #4: Dry the Sheets

    As is the case with washing, you have a few options when it comes to drying (unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer).


    The easiest method of all? Simply hang your sheets up to air-dry.

    Machine Dry

    Machine drying is another option available for most sheet sets.

    1. Keep each load small. For best results, only dry linens with linens.
    2. For added softness, throw in a dryer ball.
    3. Set the machine to low or medium heat.
    4. Remove immediately after drying and fold or put on your bed to avoid extra wrinkles.


    Get the best of both worlds: do a little of both machine and air-drying.

    1. Start with the dryer; add your linens.
    2. Keep each load small. For best results, only dry linens with linens.
    3. For added softness, throw in a dryer ball.
    4. Set the machine to low or medium heat.
    5. Dry for 10-15 minutes.
    6. Remove linens and let air-dry.

    Step #5: Iron Out the Sheet Set (Optional)

    Linen is well-known for being a naturally wrinkly fabric. If you want your sheets to be a little smoother, you have a few options available.

    Straighten by Hand

    1. Hang the sheets or lay them over a flat surface (that you don’t mind getting damp).
    2. Spritz with water.
    3. Smooth over with your hands.

    Use your Iron

    1. Drape your linens over your ironing board on their backside.
    2. If totally dry, spritz with water until damp. Or, you may add a damp cloth between the sheet and the iron.
    3. Turn on your iron to a medium-heat setting.
    4. Start ironing. Just don’t overdo it. You only need to iron until you’re satisfied with the linen’s smoothness; don’t iron until the linen is totally dry.

    Do Your Sheets Feel Stiff?

    Linen can be a little rough, especially at first. However, linen naturally gets softer after each use. If you want softer linens right away, you can check out our tips for how to soften linen sheets here.

    Final Thoughts

    A white folded stack of flax linen sheets.

    You can feel good in more ways than one when you invest in linen sheets. Not only do these sheet sets last a long time and feel wonderful, but they’re also one of the most environmentally friendly textiles around. As we all know, with great linen comes great responsibility: learn how to wash your linen sheets the right way, and you can enjoy them for years to come.

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